Well, as the saying goes, you can’t.
That is, of course, complete and utter bollocks.
It’s quite easy to tell what’s inside a pink book with an illustration of a pair of high heels and glass of champagne on the cover, especially if the title is ‘shopping and tediously unsuccessful attempts at relationships.’ Or a white book with a a faded black and white image of a sad little boy under the title ‘But Uncle Clarence, that’s my winkie’.
I don’t recall many things I ‘learned’ during my degree, but one of them was the fact that around 95% of our communication is non-verbal. Clothes, accent, demeanour, lardiness, expressions etc. all tell you much more than the mendacious shite most of us spew on a daily basis. I learned this around the time political correctness was actually going mad. One of the girls in my seminar then whined about the fact that this simply leads to prejudice, or the assessment of people before you really get to know them. Well, I had news for her: prejudice is practiced all day, every day by every single one of us. Can you imagine what life would be like if you assumed nothing about anyone you ever met? It’d be a fucking nightmare and you’d never get anything done.
Anyway, that relates to a conversation I had recently with the MD of an ad agency. I told him that I thought his agency’s appearance was consistent with his agency’s work. Just like my son is turning into a small version of me (tough shit), an agency and its ads will take on the characteristics of those who run it.
Look at your own place. Is it middle of the road and dull in appearance? What are your ads like? It it a bit groovier? Does that translate to the work?
Most people think Wiedens and Mother are amongst the most creative agencies in town. Well, they look that way too. That’s because they are creatively led and independent, so if someone wants the staff seated around a giant table or a reception that looks like an endearing art installation-cum-bike rack, then that’s fine.
This also helps to select the clients. Some would run a mile at such an unconventional approach to interior design, but then they’d probably run a mile at the correspondingly unconventional approach to advertising.
It’s the all-important first impression; a great big speech bubble saying ‘this is the kind of place we are. If you like it, come on in. If not, maybe you should fuck off to Euros’.
See? Judging books by their covers is a common and useful process.
And it’s one of the reasons I can’t stand Tony Parsons. The other is the aching shiteness of absolutely everything he writes.